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Rock Islands

Coordinates: 7°14′N 134°18′E / 7.233°N 134.300°E / 7.233; 134.300
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Rock Islands
Nickname: Chelbacheb
Aerial view of Ngerukewid
Map of the Rock Islands
Rock Islands is located in Palau
Rock Islands
Rock Islands
Coordinates7°14′N 134°18′E / 7.233°N 134.300°E / 7.233; 134.300
Total islands250–300
Area41.12 km2 (15.88 sq mi)
Highest elevation207 m (679 ft)
Population6 (2014)
Official nameRock Islands Southern Lagoon
CriteriaCultural: iii, v; Natural: vii, ix, x
Inscription2012 (36th Session)
Area100,200 ha
Buffer zone164,000 ha

The Rock Islands of Palau, also called Chelbacheb, are a collection of several hundred small limestone or coral uprises in the Southern Lagoon of Palau between Koror and Peleliu, now an incorporated part of Koror State. There are between 250 and 300 islands in the group according to different sources, with an aggregate area of 42 square kilometers (16 sq mi) and a maximum height of 207 meters (679 ft). The islands were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.



The Rock Islands are sparsely populated and famous for their beaches, blue lagoons, and the peculiar umbrella-like shapes of many of the islands themselves. Many of the islands display a mushroom-like shape with a narrower base at the intertidal notch. The indentation comes from erosion and from the dense community of sponges, bivalves, chitons, snails, urchins, and others that graze mostly on algae.[1] Also, the islands have been shaped over time by weather wind and vegetation.[2] Notable islands in the group are:


Important Bird Area[edit]

A 4,912 ha site encompassing the Rock Islands has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports populations of most of Palau’s endemic birds, including Micronesian megapodes, Palau ground doves, Micronesian imperial pigeons, Palau fruit doves, swiftlets and kingfishers, Micronesian myzomelas, morningbirds, Palau fantails, flycatchers and bush warblers, giant, dusky and citrine white-eyes, and Micronesian starlings.[3]


The islands and surrounding reefs include Palau's most popular tourist sites, such as the Blue Corner, Blue Holes, German Channel, Ngermeaus Island, and the famed Jellyfish Lake, one of many marine lakes in the Rock Islands that provides home and safety for several kinds of stingless jellyfish found only in Palau. It is the most popular diving destination in Palau, offering some of the most diverse dive sites on the planet, from wall diving and high current drift dives, to manta rays and sharkfeeds, to shallow lagoons, decorated caves, and overhangs. Tourist attractions also include Dolphin Bay, where a staff of veterinarians and trainers educate guests about dolphins.


The only inhabited place on the islands is called Dolphin Bay (on Ngeruktabel, 5 km from Koror). It is the location of Palau's national aquatics park, and hosts headquarters of Palau's Park rangers.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murphy, Richard C. (2002). Coral Reefs: Cities Under The Seas. The Darwin Press, Inc. pp. 60–61. ISBN 0-87850-138-X.
  2. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Rock Islands Southern Lagoon". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2023-01-12.
  3. ^ "Rock Islands". BirdLife Data Zone. BirdLife International. 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.

External links[edit]